Understand The Science Behind Love And Attraction: An Exploration Of The Chemical And Biological Factors At Play
In the Dirty Minds book, you will discover how sex and love work on a deeper level.
It delves into complex topics such as the role of dopamine in relationships and what humans have in common with prairie voles when it comes to love.
You’ll also learn why certain things such as body odors can actually make or break a relationship!
The author’s research-backed insights help explain love and attraction, as well as provide some tips on how to stand out and make yourself more desirable to that special someone.
So if you want to learn more about the science behind relationships, and get an inside glimpse on how to make it work for you, then this is your go-to source for all that’s sex and love!
The Evolution Of Understanding Love And Sex Through Brain Science
Humans have been studying the brain for centuries, but with mixed results.
In ancient Greece, Aristotle thought that the heart was both the site of human intelligence and the source of our passion.
He also believed the brain had a cooling function that would dampen emotions when they got out of hand.
In the nineteenth century, scientists began becoming more interested in exploring the brain, using theories such as phrenology to try and determine a person’s sense of love simply by running one’s hands over their skull.
We now know this is nonsense, and it was only in the twentieth century when medical technology evolved to allow us to take a much more detailed look at how our brains work with scans like CATs and PETs, or Computerized Axial Tomography and Positron Emission Tomography scans.
Most recently came functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which enabled researchers – mainly neuroscientists – to track blood flow within the brain so they could observe which parts become more active when exposed certain stimuli like love.
The Role Of The Basal Ganglia And Dopamine In Human Love Experience
The neurotransmitter dopamine is highly influential in human behavior, especially when it comes to experiencing love-related feelings and actions.
It’s produced by subcortical areas in the forebrain, most notably the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the substantia nigra.
Scientific studies have shown that dopamine levels play a crucial role in diseases such as Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, OCD, and ADHD – all of which demonstrate varied behaviors depending on whether there is too much or too little of this neurotransmitter being released.
In terms of romance and relationships, dopamine can influence people to act and behave differently when they are smitten with someone; for example by taking small coincidences very seriously and thinking them to be fate-driven.
In addition, it can even cause people to exhibit signs that schizophrenics display due to their raised dopamine levels.
How Sex Hormones Affect Human Behavior: A Look At The Science Behind Our Sexual Reflexes
Humans have come a long way from the animal kingdom when it comes to mating behavior, with no reflexes like lordosis or swollen rear ends indicating fertility.
But although we don’t exhibit these physical reactions, scientists know that sex hormones still play an important role in human sexuality.
For example, social psychologist Kristina Durante of the University of Minnesota found that women who are ovulating tend to buy more revealing clothes and go out clubbing more often than those who aren’t ovulating.
It seems clear that these sex hormones are influencing their behavior – they simply cannot resist these urges – but exactly how is still a mystery.
What researchers do know is that biologically active forms of estrogen and testosterone interact directly with brain cells by engaging with certain receptors in the brain.
Beyond this, however, there is still much to learn about how exactly our sex hormones motivate sexual behavior without involving reflexes as seen in other species.
No Simple Explanation: Neuroscience Uncovers What Attracts Us To Others
It seems that there is something to be said for certain stimuli when it comes to attraction.
After all, when the author asked her friends what draws them to a mate, she got a wide range of answers.
Neurobiology research has tried to uncover why this might be, but it’s never been able to provide a perfect explanation.
For example, take the study done in 2008 by Zhou and Chen from Rice University in Houston, TX.
They studied how women reacted when smelling different armpit sweat samples from men – one group taken while watching pornography and another watched neutral videos.
What they found was fascinating: the sweat produced when men were sexually aroused activated particular regions of the brain related to socioemotional behavior as well as sexual behavior in women.
Yet, despite such results, they still couldn’t verify if these experiences truly have any affect when it comes to determining attraction.
No matter what studies have been done so far, it’s clear that neurobiology has yet to come up with an exact answer as to why people can be drawn to certain things or individuals.
The fact remains that stimuli still seem to play a role in attraction even without any sound scientific proof just yet.
Oxytocin: The Mystery Chemical Behind Human Love And Loyalty?
It has been long known that for rodents like the prairie vole, monogamy is driven by hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin.
Upon mating, these hormones activate reward pathways in the brain of the vole, releasing a surge of dopamine that causes it to bond with its first partner and consequently leads to lifelong relationship.
The prairie voles have lots of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors which allow them to stay committed in their relationship.
On the other hand, humans are still trying to figure out how they maintain close relationships -and staying monogamous- in comparison to rodents.
Researchers found evidence that oxytocin is present in couples with strong connections but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is causing their behavior or vice versa.
Even though its role could be critical for sustaining love between humans, the exact biological method remains a mystery until now.
How Our Genes Influence Fidelity And What It Really Takes To Be Monogamous
Research has shown us that both prairie voles and humans are prone to cheating–but for seemingly different reasons.
In the case of prairie voles, scientists learned that when they suppressed the vasopressin receptors in what were otherwise faithful male voles, they began to sleep around with random females.
This suggests that the density of vasopressin receptors plays an essential role in maintaining monogamy among males of this species.
When it comes to humans, things aren’t as simple.
It’s true that while certain genetic variations do appear to influence our propensity for sexual behavior and commitment, none of them are absolutely deterministic.
For example, a 2008 study looking at the genes of hundreds of individuals in committed relationships showed individuals with a variation of AVPR1A (that controls vasopressin) were more likely to be unhappy in their relationships–but this doesn’t mean these people are more likely to cheat.
Similarly, a 2010 study found a variation on the dopamine receptor gene influences risky behavior- which could include infidelity – but having this genetic variation does not make it inevitable.
All this goes to show that our genes undoubtedly play key roles affect our fidelity – but there could also be other factors at play as well.
Love And Hate Are Connected In Both Chemistry And Brain Activity
Love and hate, often seen as opposite ends of the spectrum, may be more closely related than we think.
Studies have been conducted to demonstrate this connection through examinations of the brain regions, chemicals, and behavior prompted by these two emotions.
In 2010, a researcher from the University of Amsterdam conducted an experiment where individuals from two different groups were given money and asked to decide how much to keep for themselves or donate to their own group or others.
The participants that were given oxytocin before playing showed greater expressions of love toward their own group while also exhibiting more aggression when it came to protecting their group.
Additionally, in 2008 a study was conducted by University College London which scanned the brains of participants who viewed pictures of people they hated.
When compared with those that were given pictures they felt neutral towards it was discovered they used similar areas of the brain.
Professors Zeki and Romaya extended these results further by comparing them with those that had viewed photos loved ones; again, similar brain regions were discovered overlapped with both sets of photographs.
Dirty Minds by Jack & Beverly Lewis provides a unique and eye-opening perspective on the neuroscience of love, sex and commitment.
Through scientific research and case studies, the authors explore how our brains and bodies influence our relationship choices.
Ultimately, they demonstrate that understanding the science behind these topics can lead to remarkable results in our personal lives.
At the end of their book, the authors leave readers with one final summary: regardless of whether you choose to approach love, sex and commitment through romance or science, being aware of how your brain and body respond is key to making informed decisions about your relationships.